The 6 Best Carbon Steel Pans for 2024, Tested and Reviewed

Sear, fry, and bake on these top picks that combine a nonstick surface with cast iron.

Laura Denby is a food writer and chef with six years of professional culinary experience. Find her work in Real Simple, Food Network, Better Homes & Gardens and more. Cast Iron Assembly Surface Plate Supplier

The 6 Best Carbon Steel Pans for 2024, Tested and Reviewed

Mary Claire Lagroue works as an associate commerce editor at Food & Wine. A former associate editor at Allrecipes, she joined Dotdash Meredith in 2019. She has written about food since 2017, and her work can be found in Southern Living, Cooking Light, and more.

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If you like to cook, chances are you already know how important it is to have both a quality nonstick skillet and a reliable cast iron pan in your kitchen. A carbon steel skillet combines the benefits of both pans, making it a heavy-duty workhorse that's surprisingly slick and easy to clean. Chefs have heralded this lesser-known pan for years, but now it's time home cooks get in on the secret. To help you do so, we tested the best carbon steel pans from some leading brands and cookware newcomers to find our favorites. These are the best carbon steel pans, from Made In Cookware to Lodge.

It's the most affordable and best nonstick carbon steel on the list.

This piece can't handle super-high heat like some other carbon steel pans, so make sure not to exceed 600 degrees.

This pan thoroughly impressed us in every category. It's lightweight, easy to maneuver, and completely nonstick. It seared chicken thighs to golden perfection, baked a moist, chewy skillet cookie, and scrambled eggs without leaving any residue behind. It came pre-seasoned, and we didn't need to add extra seasoning, oil, or butter while cooking. It washes easily with hot water, but we could've thoroughly cleaned it with a dry cloth since nothing stuck to the pan during our testing. The Merten & Storck pan is compatible with all stovetops and oven-safe up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit. Not only is this pan functional and versatile, but it's also the most affordable on our list.

Weight: 3.5 pounds | Pre-seasoned: Yes | Oven-safe: Up to 600 degrees

The pan releases food easily and performs consistently well. Plus, unless food sticks, you can simply wipe it clean.

Acidic ingredients can strip the seasoning, and it takes heavy scrubbing to remove stuck-on foods.

Rivaling the Merten & Storck, the Mauviel stood out in testing for conducting heat easily and evenly, whether we were cooking crepes to a deep golden color or browning chicken. Made in France, the skillet comes coated with beeswax (wash and wipe it off first), preventing rust and preparing the pan for seasoning. We were able to flip the crepe and chicken breast with minimal effort.

A fried egg, however, stuck to the surface and needed to be scrubbed off, while a few onions also stuck to the pan while preparing tarte tatin. We noticed the seasoning seemed to wear off while cooking the caramelized onions, possibly from the vinegar's acidity. The pan still released the tarte tatin with no issues, aside from feeling heavier than we’d like. Its comfortable handle aided in lifting and maneuvering, especially with denser foods.

Weight: 3 pounds, 3 ounces | Pre-seasoned: No | Oven-safe: Yes

An ergonomic handle makes maneuvering super easy and the cooking surface excels at nonstick tasks.

Cooking acidic ingredients is not recommended as they can strip the coating on the pan.

Made In's carbon steel skillet passed all of our tests and was particularly useful for scrambling eggs, thanks to the completely nonstick surface. We love the ergonomic handle, which made this pan one of the easiest to hold and maneuver. The lightweight body and balanced handle made transferring it from stovetop to oven seamless. This pan produced golden, crispy chicken skin and moist, chewy skillet cookies. It's oven-safe up to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit and is easy to clean with hot water and a scrub brush.

Weight: 3 pounds | Pre-seasoned: No | Oven-safe: Up to 1,200 degrees

Like all of Smithey's cookware, each of these pans is handmade and completely unique.

We found that it needs some seasoning before it becomes completely nonstick.

Smithey's hand-forged carbon steel skillets are stunning pieces of cookware that are just waiting to become family heirlooms. Each piece is handmade and unique, which makes this carbon steel pan an impressive gift for your favorite home chef. It boasts a large cooking surface with gently sloped sides and a long handle. It warmed up quickly and transferred heat evenly and consistently throughout the pan. Though the pan comes pre-seasoned, it could benefit from additional seasoning—while it passed all three of our tests, we noticed some egg residue stuck to the pan. It was very easy to clean with hot water.

Weight: 5 pounds | Pre-seasoned: Yes | Oven-safe: Up to 1,200 degrees

It’s easy to flip food with this lightweight pan, which conducts heat evenly and mostly resists sticking. 

You’ll likely have to scrub off eggs and any food that caramelizes. It’s also sensitive to acidic or abrasive ingredients. 

Vollrath’s French-Style Carbon Steel Fry Pan performed similarly to the Mauviel in our tests, but it costs much less. It cooked an egg, crepe, and tarte tatin evenly; of these, only the fried egg stuck to the pan, though we had to scrub the edges a bit to clean after the tarte where it caramelized. This pan aced our chicken breast test with perfect chicken, easy flipping, and easy cleaning — we only needed to wipe the excess oil out with a paper towel.

The wide base of the pan allowed the spatula to enter easily. While we feel the handle is a little long, we like its triple-riveted design and hanging hole for storage. Finally, according to the manufacturer's instructions, acidic ingredients, abrasive cleaners, and even salt (when not on food or diluted with water) can damage the pan’s surface. It came out of our tests unscathed, which bodes well for it holding up under normal use and with proper care.

Weight: 2 pounds, 6 ounces | Pre-seasoned: No | Oven-safe: Yes

It holds heat at high and low temperatures alike, and it’s durable enough to use outdoors.

The oil used on it is soybean, which is an allergen for some people, but the seasoning still doesn’t make it fully nonstick. 

Lodge has earned its reputation for its durable pre-seasoned cast iron skillets, and it brings the same craftsmanship to its carbon steel skillet. Seasoned with soybean oil, the carbon steel skillet is ready to use out of the box. Maintaining it is easy: wash in warm water, dry, and oil. When food doesn’t stick, you can wipe the pan clean.

Stuck-on food, however, takes vigorous scrubbing to remove, as we found with the fried egg in our first test. Sticking also made the egg difficult to flip. The pan performed well with a crepe, as we could lift and swirl it. Still, some of the other pans we tested cooked crepes more evenly, and using the spatula with this pan felt a little awkward — the crepe tore when we lifted it. A pre-seasoned skillet gives you convenience and a good foundation, but seasoning this one again at home would improve its nonstick abilities.

Weight: 3 pounds, 2 ounces | Pre-seasoned: Yes | Oven-safe: Yes

Carbon steel pans should be heavy-duty, durable, and versatile, but that doesn't mean they should be expensive. That's why we love the Merten and Storck 12-inch Carbon Steel Black Frying Pan — it performed exceptionally well in each one of our tests while being one of the most affordable in the group. This workhorse pan is easy to hold, clean, and use, and it's earned a top spot in our kitchens.

A carbon steel pan should perform just as well in the oven as it does on the stovetop, and it should evenly conduct heat so that the center of the pan gets as hot as the outer corners of the pan. To test heating capabilities, we seared skin-on chicken thighs in each pan to see if we could create golden, evenly crispy skin. To test versatility, we baked chocolate chip skillet cookies to assess how each pan performed in the oven. To test nonstick functionality, we scrambled eggs to see how slick the surface of each pan was. To keep testing consistent, we didn't use oil or butter in our recipes. After each use, we recorded our findings to compare the efficacy of our seasoning process versus the manufacturer's seasoning. We also cleaned each pan according to the brand's instructions.

While carbon steel skillets improve over time as their surfaces become more nonstick, we brought in new skillets for our second round of testing. Once again, we cooked an egg in each skillet without oil to assess how well each pan released eggs. To test heat distribution, we cooked a crepe in each pan, first swirling a tablespoon of butter in the pan to coat it. The best performers moved on to our next test, assessing how well each could brown chicken breasts. Coating the pans with oil helped here, but only the standouts made it to our final test, cooking an onion tarte tatin to see how each pan could handle a sticky dish in the oven. The recipe called for butter to cook sliced onions as well as onion wedges. In all four tests, we considered how easily we could flip the food in the pan, whether the pan felt comfortable to hold and maneuver, and how easily we could clean the pan. Comparing findings from these tests and our first round, we narrowed this list to the skillets that performed consistently well.

Carbon steel pans combine the durability of a cast-iron skillet with the functionality of a nonstick pan, so it's important to find a pan that can conduct heat evenly on both the stovetop and in the oven while maintaining a completely slick surface. Just like cast iron, carbon steel pans require seasoning—the more you season them, the more nonstick they become over time. When shopping for a pan, pay attention to whether it comes pre-seasoned or if you'll need to season it yourself, and keep in mind that it won't be as slick on the first use as it may be on the 100th use. Some of the pans we tested arrived pre-seasoned, and some we seasoned ourselves.

Carbon steel pans are super durable and tough, which means they can also be on the heavy side. When shopping for one, keep in mind that these can be more cumbersome than your standard frying pan. If using heavy cookware is an issue for you, make sure to look for a pan that has an ergonomic handle that makes it easier to maneuver.

One of the benefits of carbon steel is that it performs like a cast iron pan without the added weight, so we wanted to make sure that each pan was easy to handle and maneuver. We assessed the weight and feel of each pan and how balanced it felt from handle to body. We also considered how hot or slippery each handle felt in our hands.

When searching for a good quality carbon steel pan, chances are you'll often hear the term "seasoning." Seasoning is the process of coating a pan with heated oil to create a protective barrier, which helps ensure a nonstick and rust-resistant surface. Like cast iron, seasoning carbon steel is a vital process, so we followed the manufacturer's instructions to season each pan. If a pan was labeled pre-seasoned, we did not do any extra seasoning to see how functional the manufacturer's coating was. Most manufacturers advised against using soap when cleaning, so we washed each pan with hot water and a scrub brush to help preserve the seasoning of each.

de Buyer Mineral B Pro 11-inch Fry Pan ($115 at Williams Sonoma)

This pan passed all of our tests and was completely nonstick throughout the cooking process. It comes coated in a protective layer of beeswax, so be sure to scrub that off and season it properly before first use. We found that our seasoning was adequate, and not only was the pan totally slick on the first use, but it also continued to get more nonstick with each subsequent test. It's durable and functional, and we love how easy it is to clean with just some hot water and a scrub brush. Unfortunately, it was one of the heaviest and most cumbersome to handle.

Matfer Bourgeat 12-Inch Carbon Steel Pan ($87 at Amazon)

This pan passed both our chicken and cookie test, but fell short on the egg test. While it's a sturdy, durable pan that transfers heat nicely, it was not as slick as we'd hoped. We also found it more challenging to clean than some of the others.

OXO Obsidian Carbon Steel 10-inch Fry Pan ($50 at Amazon)

This OXO fry pan has a large cooking surface and deeply angled sides, making it ideal for cooking large batches. However, we didn't find the surface as slick as some of the others, and a good deal of residue stuck to the pan during our egg test.

"Carbon steel pans are a wonderful alternative to chemically coated nonstick pans," says Ted Burdett, founder of cookware company Fourneau. "The oil-seasoning finish on carbon steel stands up to high heat, so it works well under a broiler, and you can use metal cooking tools without fear of scraping up Teflon. Many chefs say that the performance of carbon steel reminds them of a wok, which makes sense because most woks are made from thin, seasoned steel. Depending on the thickness of the steel, it is much more responsive than a cast iron pan. This makes it great for cooking lower temperature dishes like fried eggs, scrambled eggs, omelets, french toast, or just general sauteing and light stir frying."

"Although not as nonstick as a chemically coated pan, a carbon steel pan gets better over time, developing a nearly nonstick service and does not need to be replaced every couple of years," says Burdett. "Carbon steel pans will never provide the same nonstick performance as a Teflon pan, but with their smooth cooking surface, they can get close. If you like a durable product, consider that oil seasoning improves over time while ceramic coatings and Teflon degrade over time and cannot be repaired."

"Seasoning is built up in layers by applying a very thin film of oil to the pan surface and then heating the pan to 'bake on' the oil. When heated, the oil forms cross-linked bonds and cures to a solid film. Flax, grape seed, and soy oil form hard, smooth seasoning layers," says Burdett. "More and more, carbon steel pans are being sold with seasoned already applied, providing the home chef with a solid foundation on which to build. In most cases, you can start cooking with pre-seasoned pans right out of the box." Over time, if properly maintained, the seasoning will be bolstered by regular use.

"Carbon steel pans need to be hand washed. With light use, sometimes all that's needed for cleaning is a wipe with a paper towel. With heavily soiled pans, it's important to remove any stuck or carbonized food bits – these do not contribute to a pan's seasoning. A bamboo scraper or chainmail scrubber works well. Light detergent and a sponge will be enough to clean up after most dishes. The final step is seasoning: once the pan is clean, dry it. Then, rub a very thin layer of oil on the cooking surface," says Burdett. Heat the pan on the stove on low heat until both sides are dry. Note that these pans "should never be stored wet," he says.

"Because they are made from steel, they can form rust when the steel is allowed to oxidize. Light rust is easy to remove with a three-millimeter abrasive pad or fine steel wool," says Burdett. "After the rust is rubbed off, wash the pan and season it several times to rebuild the protective oil coating. Heavy rust can lead to pitting on the steel surface and may require a wire brush to remove."

Laura Denby is a food writer and former professional chef who focuses on finding functional kitchen equipment for home cooks. She uses her years of experience cooking in professional kitchens along with her degree in Culinary Arts from the Institute of Culinary Education to guide her thoroughly tested product reviews. For this piece, Laura performed competitive research to develop a comprehensive product set, then personally tested each carbon steel pan and assessed each one's efficiency for use in home kitchens, using a diverse collection of recipes. You can find more of Laura's work in Real Simple, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home,, and more.

The 6 Best Carbon Steel Pans for 2024, Tested and Reviewed

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